Fire by hand drill

Fire by hand drill

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Navigation

This is a subject that really interests me.

To find yourself on a fog shrouded moor with only your map and compass to show the way is to me a part of the thrill of the outdoors.

Its part challenge, part puzzle and a very rewarding feeling when you take a bearing and walk into the unknown.

Amazingly your mind can play tricks on you which can make you hopelessly lost.

I remember being in a complete whiteout on Ben Nevis in February a few years ago and trying to navigate off the summit.

The route is given on the map in the form of a bearing to take and a distance to walk and there are a few direction changes.

The problem is that there are a number of gullies which have dangerous and unstable cornices build up. These gullies have claimed a lot of lives.

So from the summit hut we walked on a bearing of 282 for 1200m then headed North.

Because we could see more than 10m this was difficult to maintain a straight bearing. We also got the feeling that the compass was not correct and that we were too near gullies.

Of course this is the rule. The compass is all ways right, trust the compass! (Unless your in an area with magnetic rocks)

Myself and my partner took turns to walk a head on a bearing to the limit of vision. the other waited and watched to make sure we didn't go off course.

This worked well enough but a few errors were made and it was a case of back tracking and keep going.

Sometimes we could hear the cornices collapsing nearby and it felt like we had gone of course.

We threw snow balls ahead to try and separate the white sky from the white ground and give a sense of depth and something to walk too.

A 14 hour day in the end.

All in all an enjoyable trip.


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